Two plates with classical escargots

FAQ

The French gastronomic tradition

Where does the culinary tradition of eating escargots come from ?
Where does the herb butter preparation come from ?
Why are the escargots a festive product ? Why are they only eaten at Christmas ?
Why do some consumers find that escargots are unappetizing or don’t want to taste them ?
Is the escargot eaten with everything ?
Which beverages are served with the escargots ?
Which side dishes are served with the escargots ?
What do you need for the preparation and the consumption of the escargots ?

The certification of the escargots

Which certification can we rely on for the escargots ?
Why are there no organic certified Burgundy escargots ?
Why is there no seal of quality for “sustainable escargots” that resembles MSC seal ?

The types and sizes

Are there different types of escargots ?
Are there different sizes of escargots ?
What is the size of an escargot ?
Why do the escargots have different colors ?
What does an escargot feed ?

The collection of the escargots

Are the escargots that we consume feral or breeded ?
How are the escargots collected ?
Is the collection detrimental to the individual escargot species ?
What are the threats for the wild living escargots ?
Why do we have the impression that the escargot is becoming rare ?
Would escargot breeding be a solution to have escargots permanently available ?

The production of the escargots

How are the escargots prepared ?
Is the preparation of the escargot a mechanical or manual task ?
Are the escargots in their original shells ?
Are the escargot shells used several times ?

 

The French gastronomic tradition

Where does the culinary tradition of eating escargots come from?

During the prehistory escargots were already eaten by humans. In the middle Ages, escargots were making troubles in the Burgundy vineyard so they were picked up and sent to the French capital to be sold and eaten.
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Where does the herb butter preparation come from ?

The Burgundy recipe with butter, garlic, parsley, shallots and spices was served for the first time in the XIXth century by Antoin Carême, the cook of Prince Talleyrand, for a dinner in honor of the tsar of Russia. This preparation has been preserved over the centuries and is one of France’s most important culinary héritages and is now part of the French cuisine.
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Why are the escargots a festive product ? Why are they only eaten at Christmas?

The escargot is an esceptional dish for which a long and laborious effort is required. It is reserved for special occasions such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Furthermore, an annual sale of this product would not be possible, because the number of the escargots are limited.
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Why do some consumers find that escargots are unappetizing or don’t want to taste them ?

People are often afraid of what they don’t know. Many consumers claim, that they do not like escargots, even though they have never taste them. However, they would certainly be positively surprised by their taste…

In addition, the external appearance of the snail (especially its slime) may be antipathetic to some people. But appearances are deciptive, because nowadays the snail slime is used in cosmetics.
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Is the whole escargot eaten ?

No, only the muscle meat of an escargot is consumed.
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Which beverages are served with the escargots ?

Escargots are mainly served with white and red wines such as Pinot Noir or Riesling. But beer, sparkling wine and champagne are also popular to serve with escargots.
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Which side dishes are served with the escargots ?

Baguette is typically served with escargots. But they are also often eaten with a salad.
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What do you need for the preparation and the consumption of the escargots ?

There are special escargot plates with indentations, which are suitable for the preparation in the oven. However, as all our packaging contains ovenproof aluminium trays, this plate is not absolutely necessary. In addition, escargot tongs are often used, because the shells are still hot when they come out of the oven. But if you wait a few seconds, you will hold the shells without any difficulty into your hand. To remove the meat out of the shell, there are special two-pronged escargot forks, which simplify the removal. Of course this fork can also be replaced by a small pick.
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The certification of the escargots

Which certification can we rely on for the escargots ?

There are organic escargot farms which are subject to the European Union terms of reference where the breeding takes place outdoor. The closeness of the escargots is limited and they received food which is free of any chemical products and additives. The suitable escargots come from controlled, organic cultivation and can be combined with 100% organic ingredients to a filling: butter, garlic, parsley, shallot, salt, pepper.

In general, many escargot producers are IFS certified for their entire range. This means that the producers satisfy very high quality and food safety standards and are subject to regular and independent examinations. The same applies for our company, which is also IFS certified.
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Why are there no organic certified Burgundy escargots ?

For the escargots, as for all other foodstuffs, only products from cultivation or breeding can be certified. Because the escargots are not suitable for breeding, they can not be certified. In addition, the biological production methods include a control of many parameters which can not be carried out with the collections of the wild.

There is only on species of escargot that can be orcanic certified: the Helix aspersa, the only escargot, which tolerates a breeding.
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Why is there no seal of quality for “sustainable escargots” that resembles MSC seal ?

The MSC seal is only reserved for wild fishes and seafood and guarantees that the products come from sustainable fisheries. This seal was introduced because of threats to marine resources from overfishing and by-catches. But for now, this seal is unnecessary, because wild escargots are currently not endangered.
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The types and sizes

Are there different types of escargots ?

Yes, there are 3 main types of escargots :

The Helix pomatia, it is the only escargot that has a right to the name “Burgundy escargot” in France
The Helix lucorum, also known as the “Classical escargot”
The Helix Aspersa, also called “the garden snail”

Each species has its own characteristics, which you can discover here.
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Are there different sizes of escargots ?

Yes. The size of the escargot, also called “caliber” depends on its age at the time of its collection. In fact, the snail is a creature that grows all its life. Of course, the different sizes correspond to adult escargots. It is prohibited to collect them at an earlier age in order to guarantee the sustainment of the various species of escargots.
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What is the size of an escargot ?

From “medium” to “large” to “extra large”, escargot sizes are determined by the weight of their meat. The different calibers are used to define the shell sizes that the consumer will taste.
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Why do the escargots have different colors ?

It depends on the species and the environment. Of course, there are also color nuances within the individual species. These can be justified by the nutrition of the escargot and the type of its environment.

To discover the different escargot shells of each species, click here.
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What does an escargot feed ?

Snails are vegetarian. However, their nutrition varies according to origin, which explain variations in the meat taste within the same species.
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The collection of the escargots

Are the escargots that we consume feral or breeded ?

The Burgundy escargots and the Classical escargots are wild escargots which can only be obtained by collections.

The Grey escargots are coming either from the nature or from breeding.
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How are the escargots collected ?

The escargots are collected in spring by hand. This is especially the case from March to June, when it is warm and rainy. The harvest time lasts only a very short period, on average six weeks. As soon as the reproduction season begins in July, the harvest time ends.
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Is the collection detrimental to the individual escargot species ?

No. This can be justified on the one hand because the reproduction cycles are respected and on the other hand, too small escargots are not collected. In addition, the escargots were only collected in less quantities because they have to be picked up by hand. Many escargots prefer to live in bushes and hedges, whereupon they are untraceable for the collectors and they escape the harves.

However, the escargot is very sensitive to pollution in the natural environment and therefore it disappears from polluted areas.
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What are the threats for the wild living escargots ?

Current threats to escargots include in particular modern agriculture with its chemical products, the disappearance of hedges and bushes under which escargots can no longer stay, environmental pollution and global warming which causes prolonging droughts.
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Why do we have the impression that the escargot is becoming rare ?

The escargots do not become rare, but the collection varies from a year to another. The harvest time depends strongly on the weather. If it is too dry, the escargots do not come out and if it rains too much, the grass grows too fast and they cannot be found anymore.

In addition, the Central European countries have experienced a constant rural exodus in recent years, which has led to a shortage of escargot collectors. There are increasingly alternative ways for working, such as picking up herbs or mushrooms or working in a factory. Therefore, it becomes more and more difficult to find escargot collectors.
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Would escargot breeding be a solution to have escargots permanently available ?

No, not really. Above all, this would not be an option for the Burgundy escargot, no for the Classical escargot, because both can not tolerate breeding. But together they account for almost 99% of the total escargot consumption. Furthermore, a lot of land would have to be used for escargot breeding, which would be 60 times more than what is used for breeding today. Not to forget, breeding would only increase the prices of the escargots.
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The production of the escargots

How are the escargots prepared ?

In the countries, where the escargots were collected, the escargots are fasted for ten days and then boiled. Then a part of the pancreas is removed to get only the muscle meat. This meat is then washed, blanched and finally frozen. All these processes are carried out manually. The shells are also washed, dried, sorted by size and packed.

In our factory in Strasbourg, the escargot meat is carefully cooked for several hours in a flavored bouillon, then manually put back into a shell and finally the shell is stuffed with a butter filling. To get an insight into the preparation of the escargots, click here.
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Is the preparation of the escargot a mechanical or manual task ?

The preparation of the escargots is exclusively a manual task. The escargot is a very small animal which has a fine and fragile shell. Mechanization of the filling of the shells with the meat or the butter filling is therefore difficult to realize due to the fragility of the shells and the lack of precision of mechanical processing.
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Are the escargots in their original shells ?

No. The meat and shell were separately washed and prepared, before the meat is pushed into the shell. The escargots were put back into the shell of the same species, but not exactly into the same shell where they lived. But sometimes it happens, that the meat of the Burgundy escargot (Helix pomatia) is placed in the shell of the Classical escargot (Helix lucorum), because the escargot shell of the Burgundy escargot is more fragile and there are more damages on it.
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Are the escargot shells used several times ?

No. All escargot shells, which were used, are filled only once with a previously living escargot.
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